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Jury Awards California Woman Nearly $10 Million for Injury in Hemorrhoid Surgery

Dec 16, 2015

A California state jury has awarded nearly $10 million to a woman injured by a defective hemorrhoid stapler during surgery.

The judgment was returned against Johnson & Johnson subsidiaries Ethicon Endo-Surgery Inc. and J&J Healthcare Systems, Law360 reports.

The award was made to a retired San Jose police officer, who was injured during hemorrhoid surgery in January 2012, when a defective Ethicon PPH 03 hemorrhoid stapler misfired, sealing her anal canal shut. The woman needed 21 days of emergency hospitalization and a number of surgeries to try to fix her damaged bowel. She suffered massive infections and continues to struggle with the results of the injury, according to Law360. She has had to wear a colostomy bag since the surgery and she has internal and external scarring,

The jury found that a defective manufacturing process reduced the lubrication applied to the stapler, causing it to fire with more force than stated in the specifications. The woman's attorneys say Ethicon knew about the defect for more than 10 years before it recalled the stapler. Almost 145,000 units sold between 2011 and 2012 were recalled, including the one used in the plaintiff's surgery.

The woman's surgeon was also named in the lawsuit, but the jury found that the doctor was not to blame because Ethicon and J&J Healthcare Systems never warned customers about the defect, Law350 reports. During the trial, the woman's attorneys argued that Ethicon did not warn surgeons about the defects reported by other surgeons.

During surgery, the doctor inserted the stapler and had trouble firing it because of the defect. When the doctor was unable to remove the stapler, she fired it again, sealing the woman's anal canal shut.

The jury awarded the woman and her husband $8.5 and $1.3 million respectively for medical costs, pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of consortium, embarrassment, and humiliation, according to Law 360.

An American now living in Germany is trying to get his suit alleging injuries from a defective Ethicon hemorrhoid stapler heard in a U.S. court. The man alleges that the staples used in his hemorrhoid surgery in July 2012 in Germany came loose and damaged his rectal wall, resulting in infections and injuries that required 20 additional surgeries. Ethicon has asked that the suit be thrown out of U.S. court because virtually all the witnesses and many relevant documents are in Germany, according to Law360.

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